Cuba's anarchists had actively participated in the struggle against the Batista dictatorship. Some had fought as guerrillas in the eastern mountains and in those of Escambray in the center of the island; others had taken part in the urban struggle. Their purposes were the same as those of the majority of the Cuban people: to oust the military dictatorship and to end political corruption. In addition to considering these ends desirable in and of themselves, the anarchists believed they would provide a wider space in which to work in the ideological, social, and labor fields. No one expected a radical change in the socioeconomic structure of the country.
The previously mentioned 1956 pamphlet, Proyecciones Libertarias, which attacked Batista, also characterized Castro as someone who merited "no confidence whatsoever," because "he [didn't] respect promises and only fought for power." It was for this reason that the anarchists established frequent clandestine contacts with other revolutionary groups, especially the Directorio Revolucionario, although there were also contacts with libertarian elements such as Gilberto Lima within M26J. Many of these meetings were held secretly at the ALC offices at Calle JesÃºs MarÃa 103 for the purposes of coordination of sabotage activities and of facilitating the distribution of opposition propaganda.
Upon the triumph of the revolution, Castro had become the indisputable leader of the revolutionary process, largely as a result of an incorrect evaluation by Batista's political opposition, which regarded Castro as a necessary, temporary, and controllable evil.
If the libertarians were uneasy about Castro, the rest of the political opposition, the Cuban capitalist elite, and the U.S. embassy expected to manipulate him. For their part, the majority of the Cuban people supported Castro without reserve in the midst of unprecedented jubilation. It appeared to them that they were at the portal of paradise, when in reality it was the antechamber of the inferno.
Due to the apparent refusal of Castro to lead, a "revolutionary government" was created with his support, the purpose of which was to "settle accounts" with the criminals of the former government. "Revolutionary Tribunals" were established which issued summary judgments in response to "popular demand." These tribunals handed down lengthy prison terms and death sentences, thus reestablishing the death penalty (which had been abolished by the Constitution of 1940), but this time for political crimes.
The leaders of the new revolutionary government understood the importance of the Cuban working class, which was simultaneously organized under and made superfluous by the political groups and reformists who controlled the CTC. They had learned this lesson through one notable failure. In April 1958, M26J had ordered a general strike in Havana, but it was badly organized, and the coordination with other revolutionary groups was also bad. As a result, the strike roundly failed, which served to demonstrate that M26J had essentially no base in the unions or among the working class.
Given this experience, upon taking power one of the first goals of Castro's "revolutionary" government was taking control of the CTC (which they quickly renamed the CTCR"”CTC Revolucionaria).
In the first days of January 1959"”using the excuse of purging the CTC of collaborators with the old regime"”the new government arbitrarily expelled all of the leading anarchosyndicalists from the gastronomic, transport, construction, electrical utility, and other unions of the confederation. Some of these individuals had actively opposed the dictatorship, and others had suffered prison and exile. Three outstanding libertarian militants who fell victim to this purge were Santiago Cobo, from the transport workers' union, Casto MoscÃº, from the gastronomic workers' union, and Abelardo Iglesias, from the construction workers' union. In all three cases rank-and-file fellow workers came forward to defend them; if they hadn't done this, Cobo, MoscÃº, and Iglesias would have ended up in prison. This purge gravely affected the already weakened libertarians, even though the anarchosyndicalist movement retained its prestige among the Cuban proletariat.
But the purge was not comprehensive. The new regime couldn't eliminate wholesale the many union leaders who had remained neutral in the conflict between Castro and Batista. There still remained within the CTCR leaders who had the backing of Cuba's workers, and others who had been forced to go into exile under Batista's dictatorship.
Despite the purge, the libertarian publications Solidaridad GastronÃ³mica and El Libertario initially adopted a favorable, but cautious and expectant, attitude toward the new revolutionary government. However, the national council of the ALC issued a manifesto in which it "expounded on . . . and passed judgment on the triumphant Cuban revolution." After explaining the libertarian opposition to the past dictatorship, the manifesto analyzed the present and near future, declaring that the "revolutionary" institutional changes did not merit enthusiasm, and that one should have no illusions about them. It stated, with a certain irony, that its authors were "sure that for some time at least we'll enjoy public liberties sufficient to guarantee the opportunity of publishing propaganda." It went on with a well-aimed attack against "state centralism," saying that it would lead to an "authoritarian order," and it then made reference to the penetration of the Catholic Church and the Communist Party in the "revolutionary" process. It concluded with a reference to the workers' movement, where it noted the emphasis of the PCC on "reclaiming the hegemony which . . . it enjoyed during the other era of Batista's domination," even though it predicted that this would not occur. The manifesto ended on a note of optimism: "The panorama, despite all, is encouraging."
For its part, and taking a similar tack, Solidaridad GastronÃ³mica on February 15, 1959 published another manifesto to Cuba's workers and the people in general in which it warned that a revolutionary government was an impossibility, and that "[in order] that rights and liberties are respected and exercised . . . it's necessary that union elections be called . . . and that [workers'] assemblies begin to function." It later noted that the decision of relieving past officers of their duties "must absolutely be that of the workers themselves . . . since to do this in any other way would be to fall into the procedures of the past . . . We'll combat this." Unfortunately, this manifesto didn't resonate in the Cuban working class.
In its March 15, 1959 issue, Solidaridad GastronÃ³mica bitterly condemned "the dictatorial proceedings [of the CTCR] . . . agreements and mandates handed down from the top that impose measures, dismiss and install [union] directors." The paper also accused "elements . . . in the assemblies who are not members of the unions" of "raising their arms in favor of orders of the [new] directors." Among other abnormalities it cited the following: "On occasions the assembly halls have been filled with armed militia men, which constitutes a blatant form of coercion and lack of respect for regulatory precepts," and which shows that the marxists "will resort to any type of proceeding to maintain their control of the unions." As is obvious in hindsight, the battle to liberate the unions was lost despite the denunciations of the anarchosyndicalists.
The opposition to anarchosyndicalism emanated directly from M26J and was instigated by the PCC elements which had infiltrated it and had in an almost military manner quickly taken control of all of the unions on the island. They said that they had done this as a temporary measure in order to purge the corrupt elements left in the unions from the Batista dictatorship, and that their domination would last only until there were new union elections. But as has so often been the case in Cuba, the "temporary" became permanent.
But where did the M26J elements who took over the unions come from? It was well known that M26J had never had a real base in the unions, had not had even the general sympathy of the workers, and didn't have working class leadership.
The "revolutionary" union directors came in a majority of cases from two antagonistic camps. One camp was the syndicalist Comisiones Obreras (the reformist Workers' Commissions), which tied itself to electoral politics and whose members had been enemies of the Batista regime; the Comisiones Obreras belonged to the Partido del Pueblo Ortodoxo and to the Partido Revolucionario Cubano Auténtico. The Comisiones had been founded in the late 1940s, and both parties had been well known from the founding of the CTC in 1939. They shared a visceral and profound anti-Communism. The other camp was the PCC. The former engaged in cynical opportunism and lent itself to any type of state manipulation. The latter was extremely dangerous, and despite its muddy past received even in the very early stages official support from the highest levels of government. Both sides hated the other, and they were preparing for an open struggle for hegemony in the proletarian sector; but instead, as we'll see later, this whole affair ended in an amalgamation disastrous to the Cuban workers' movement.
By July 1959, the Cuban state was totally in the hands of Castro and his close advisers, almost all of whom had come directly from the armed struggle against Batista. The presence of the PCC was already notable among the leading government figures, notably in Fidel's brother RaÃºl and in Ernesto Guevara, both of whom were openly marxist-leninist. Such a glaring fact provoked a reaction in Cuba's political climate, which had been characterized by anti-Communism. The anarchists had noted the influence of the PCC and were greatly alarmed, because they understood that the PCC's influence in the governmental and union spheres would lead to a mortal blow to both anarchism and workers' autonomy sooner or later. Their nightmares would shortly become reality. For his part, Castro publicly declared that he had no relationship with the PCC, but that he had Communists in his government, just as he had anti-Communists in it.
The situation of these last turned critical in the final days of 1959. Halfway through the year the political adversaries of Castro had already begun to take note of the growing PCC influence, and began a timid opposition campaign"”which they understood as their right and duty"”against what they called "the Communist infiltration of the government." The response was draconian. They were labeled seditious "enemies of the revolution" and "agents of Yankee imperialism." Treated as such, they were jailed or forced into exile.
The first victim of this Machiavellian maneuvering was Manuel UrrutÃa. UrrutÃa, a former judge in Santiago de Cuba, and an M26J sympathizer and anti-Communist, was named by M26J as de facto president of the revolutionary government following Batista's overthrow. Pressed by the ministers in his own government (including Fidel Castro) to name Castro as "mÃ¡ximo lider de la RevoluciÃ³n" ("maximum leader of the revolution"), UrrutÃa refused. He was then forced to resign and seek asylum in a foreign embassy following false accusations of corruption.
A worse fate awaited one of his closest political allies and a member of his cabinet. Humberto SorÃ MarÃn, the former commander of the rebel army, the author of the agrarian reform law, and an anti-Communist, was jailed under the accusation of "conspiring against the revolution" and was executed in April 1961. Another ex-rebel commander also met an unkind fate. Hubert Matos, former military chief of the Camagüey district, complained to Castro himself about "Communist infiltration" in the ranks of the armed forces. He was then accused of sedition and later of treason for the crime of having resigned his rank and his post. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison, and served 16.
Then there was the case of Pedro Luis DÃaz Lanz, head of the rebel air force. Preoccupied with the evident Communist influence within the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias, DÃaz Lanz discovered a marxist indoctrination center at a ranch near Havana called "El Cortijo" ("The Farmhouse"). He complained about this to Castro. In response, Castro forbade him from making this news public. DÃaz Lanz became ever more disturbed by the increasing power of the PCC in both the armed forces and government, and resigned his post. He managed to escape to Miami before meeting a fate similar to those of SorÃ MarÃn and Matos.
The reaction of parts of the opposition to this governmental repression was violent"”sabotage and a few bombings. These clandestine actions were carried out by various political organizations, which at first were anti-Communist and in the end were anti-Castro. Almost all of these groups had been involved in the armed struggle against Batista and had been affiliated with M26J; they chose direct action because of the undeniable and growing marxist influence at the highest levels of the government. They sabotaged electric utilities, burned several shops and department stores, set off bombs in public places, and collected arms and explosives to send to guerrillas operating in the Escambray Mountains and also in the Sierra de los Ã“rganos (despite there being as yet no united guerrilla front).
Castro's response to all this was predictable: he reestablished the "Revolutionary Tribunals" which handed down sentences of death by firing squad to anyone accused of "subversive acts." Thus commenced a long period of terror and counter-terror.
Meanwhile the international anarchist community was mourning the loss of Camilo Cienfuegos, the valiant veteran of the armed struggle, whose disappearance remained shrouded in mystery. Camilo was one of the children of RamÃ³n Cienfuegos, a Cuban worker who had participated in the anarchist movement during the 1920s. He worked with the SIA and participated in the founding of the ALC, but according to Casto MoscÃº, "We never saw him again until Camilo became a national hero." The disappearance of Camilo was lamented by nearly the entire Cuban people, and also abroad by many libertarians who considered him an anarchist (though the truth is that he was never a member of the Cuban anarchist movement). Nonetheless, half the anarchist world cried over the loss of this revolutionary hero as if he had been another Durruti. This is hardly surprising given that the Cuban government occupied itself (principally in Europe) with repeating to the point of fatigue that Comandante Camilo Cienfuegos was a libertarian militant, for the purpose of gaining support for the Castro regime within the international anarchist movement. The myth has persisted among libertarians to this day: Saint Camilo, the Anarchist.
At the end of 1959, the Tenth National Congress of the ConfederaciÃ³n de Trabajadores de Cuba Revolucionaria (CTCR, the renamed CTC) was convened. A majority of the delegates accepted the goal of "Humanism," a type of philosophy which had been outlined at the beginning of the year as a means of distancing the CTCR from the traditional capitalist and Communist Cold War camps. The slogans of this Cuban Humanism were "Bread with Liberty" and "Liberty without Terror." The Cubans, with typical creativity, had invented a new socio-political system in order to give some type of ideological explanation for the new regime. David Salvador, leader of the M26J faction, feigned and functioned as the most daring champion of this new Cuban "Humanism." For its part, the PCC, which was well represented in this Congress, though in the minority, called up the musty slogan, "Unity."
On November 23, the Congress found itself totally divided over the matters of making agreements and of electing representatives. Confusion reigned, owing to the inability of the various opposing sectors to reach agreements. There were 2854 delegates at the Congress, of which the Communists only influenced 265. With that few delegates, it was impossible for them to control the Congress. But they had the backing of the revolutionary government and its new Minister of Labor, Augusto MartÃnez SÃ¡nchez, commander of the army and an intimate of RaÃºl Castro, the number two man in the new Cuban hierarchy (and just incidentally the number one man's brother).
The marxists then proposed the creation of a single list of candidates that would assume direction of the CTCR. That is to say, they proposed that control of the CTCR be put in the hands of a committee in which they (the PCC) would have equal representation with M26J and the anti-Communist unionists. Given their small representation within the union movement, this maneuver couldn't have been more cynical. Much to the surprise of MartÃnez SÃ¡nchez and RaÃºl Castro, both the independent unionists and the M26J faction rejected this proposal, with the M26J delegates whistling and shouting down their own leaders.
In light of the obvious paralysis created by the divisions in the Congress, Castro himself showed up and explained the importance of "defending the revolution," for which it was necessary that there be "truly revolutionary directors" supported by all the delegates of the Congress. He proposed that the CTCR leader be David Salvador, leader of the M26J contingent. The only faction that should prevail is "the party of the fatherland," said Castro. And effectively, as in the "good times" of the Cuban republic, as much as many wanted to forget them, the government of the day nominated the Secretary General of the CTCR. Salvador was then elected and given the task of designating a new "national directorate." Castro's nomination of Salvador in effect made him a governmental appendage, if not a government minister. On November 25, the Congress ended. The CTCR was now in the hands of the "independent" unionists who followed the government line.
It was logical that the syndicalist representatives of the M26J who opposed PCC control of the Congress and the CTCR, after listening to the instructions from their maximum leader, Fidel, about control of the organization, would mutely accept the government imposition of Salvador. This was for the simple reason that the orders coming from above indicated that they either comply or end up in jail. As the slogan of the day put it, "Fatherland or Death! We Will Win!" In this manner, a century of struggle by Cuban workers against the abuses of the bosses ended with the "Congress of the melons" (olive-green on the outside, the color of M26J's army uniforms, and red on the inside, the color of the PCC). The struggle against the individual bosses had ended, and in a few months the Cuban state would be the one and only boss"”and a boss which controlled (and castrated) the only organization capable of defending workers' rights against it.
The 10th Congress marked the end of a nearly century-long history of workers' struggles, of strikes, of work stoppages that had begun with the first workers' associations in 1865. Twenty years later these associations became militant unions in the incipient Cuban anarchosyndicalist movement, with their tobacco strikes, demonstrations, congresses, free schools, newspapers, and other activities. Until a few months after the founding of the CNOC (at the time, frankly anarchosyndicalist) in 1925, the Cuban workers' movement aimed toward apoliticism and against the participation of the movement's leaders in elections or political office.
The arrival of the PCC and its opportunistic assault aimed at taking over the CNOC, in order to put it at the disposition of Machado in 1933 and Batista in 1939, is a bench mark in the lethal fossilization of the Cuban workers' movement.
The control of the CTC by elements affiliated with Eusebio Mujal during the entire decade of the 1950s was another backward step for workers' emancipation. But the 10th Congress of the CTCR was the crushing blow. After it, the Cuban proletariat would be firmly harnessed to the government cart.
At the end of that 10th Congress, Solidaridad GastronÃ³mica commented in a December 15, 1960 editorial titled "Considerations Concerning the 10th Congress of the CTCR" that, "It was demonstrated at the Congress that the marxist se-ores not only do not represent a force inside the Cuban workers' movement, but that the repulsion they inspire in the proletariat of our country is well known." Later, the editorial continued: "This underlines once more the inclination toward total control of the workers' movement by the political current that rules the nation." It ended on a totally unfounded optimistic note: "The 10th Cuban Workers' Congress didn't deliver leadership of the organization to the Communists, an indisputable proof that the proletariat can't be easily fooled."
The new directorate named by Salvador dedicated itself to "purifying" the unions and federation of all of the anti-Communist elements who had resisted the marxists at the Congress. Already by April 1960 this "purification" had achieved results as satisfactory to the government as to the PCC.
One result was the militarization of the labor force. The CTCR pressured the unions and federations to create militias. Because union membership was obligatory in all workplaces, this in effect forced Cuba's workers to "voluntarily" militarize themselves.
While this was occurring, David Salvador, pressured by both the "directorate" he had named and by the Secretary of Labor, MartÃnez SÃ¡nchez, resigned his post. (Ironically, the English translation of "Salvador" is "Savior.") A few weeks later it was filled by PCC member LÃ¡zaro Pe-a. A little after this, Salvador, the man who had delivered the Cuban working class to Fidel Castro, was detained on suspicion of "counterrevolutionary activities." Shortly after he was released, he went into exile, where he continues to live in obscurity.
These were difficult times, as in any revolutionary process in which the people debate among themselves amidst fear, hope, and uncertainty. Matters were worse for the anarchists than for most other Cubans, as at the start of the year the official Castro organ, RevoluciÃ³n, had begun a campaign of anti-anarchist provocation, making accusations that were as veiled as they were false. The PCC had not only seized control of the unions, but the government was vilifying the strongest defenders of workers' rights.
On January 25, 1960, the ALC held a national assembly. Its accords included a call to "support the Cuban Revolution" because of "its indisputable benefit to the people," its delivery of "more social justice and enjoyment of liberty." Nonetheless, in the same paragraph it expressed the ALC's "total rejection of all types of imperialism, totalitarianism, and dictatorships, the world over." The accords also included a call for support of and solidarity with "el compa-ero Casto MoscÃº . . . [in the face of ] sectarian attacks and calumnies." The ALC delegates also elected a new national council, with José Rodriguez GonzÃ¡lez as Secretary General. Others named to positions of responsibility included Rolando Pi-era Pardo, Bernardo Moreno, Manuel Gaona, Marcelo Ãlvarez, and Omar Dieguez.
Later that year, just before falling victim to "revolutionary" censorship, Solidaridad GastronÃ³mica, the ALC journal, published its final issue. That issue, of December 15, 1960, contained a front page article commemorating Durruti's death during the defense of Madrid. In it, Solidaridad noted, "A dictatorship can originate in the politics of class domination." An editorial in the same issue stated:
A collective dictatorship . . . of the working class, or to use the terminology of the day, a people's dictatorship, would be a contradiction in terms, given that the characteristic of all dictatorships, including "peoples'" or "proletarian," is the placing of power in the hands of a few persons"”not its sharing by the populace. Dictators have absolute dominion not only over the oppressed political and social classes, but above all over the members of the supposed dominant class. The day will never come when there is a dictatorship of workers or proletarians, campesinos and students . . . or whatever you want to call it . . . The power of dictators falls upon all . . . not only upon industrialists, landowners, and plantation owners . . . but also upon the proletariat and the people in general"”and also upon those "revolutionaries" who do not directly participate in the exercise of power.
As for non-Cuban anarchist analyses of the situation, the German libertarian AgustÃn Souchy journeyed to Havana in the summer of 1960. Souchy had been invited by the government to study the situation of Cuban agriculture and to issue his opinions on it, and many anarchists were enthusiastic about his visit. The German writer was warmly greeted by Cuba's anarchists on August 15, 1960.
Souchy was a student of agriculture and had written a widely known (in Europe) pamphlet, The Israeli Cooperatives, about the organization of the kibbutzim. This was the reason that the Cuban government had invited him to visit Cuba"”it expected something similar from him; it hoped that he would write an endorsement of its gigantic agrarian program which would, among other things, be useful as propaganda in the anarchist media and among libertarian Cubans.
This didn't happen. Souchy traveled the island with his eyes wide open, and his analysis of the situation couldn't have been more pessimistic. He concluded that Cuba was going too near the Soviet model, and that the lack of individual freedom and individual initiative could lead to nothing but centralism in the agricultural sector, as was already notable in the rest of the economy. His analysis was issued in a pamphlet titled Testimonios sobre la RevoluciÃ³n Cubana, which was published without going through official censorship. Three days after Souchy left the island, the entire print run of the pamphlet was seized and destroyed by the Castro government, on the suggestion of the PCC leadership. Fortunately, this attempt at suppression was only partially successful, as the anarchist publisher Editorial Reconstruir in Buenos Aires issued a new printing of the work in December 1960, with a new prologue by Jacobo Prince.
In this same summer of 1960, convinced that Castro inclined more each day toward a marxist-leninist government which would asphyxiate freedom of expression, communication, association, and even movement, the majority in the ALC agreed to issue its DeclaraciÃ³n de Principios under another name. This document was signed by the Grupo de Sindicalistas Libertarios and was endorsed by the AgrupaciÃ³n Sindicalista Libertaria in June. The reason for using this name was to avoid reprisals against members of the ALC. This document is vital in understanding the situation of the Cuban anarchists at this time. Its objectives included informing the Cuban people of the political and social situation, accusing the government of fomenting disaster, and engaging the PCC"”many of whose members were already occupying important positions in the government"”in debate.
The eight points of the DeclaraciÃ³n attacked "the state in all its forms": 1) it defined, in accord with libertarian ideas, the functions of unions and federations in regard to their true economic roles; 2) it declared that the land should belong "to those who work it"; 3) it backed "cooperative and collective work" in contrast to the agricultural centralism of the government's Agrarian Reform law; 4) it called for the free and collective education of children; 5) it inveighed against "noxious" nationalism, militarism, and imperialism, opposing fully the militarization of the people; 6) it attacked "bureaucratic centralism" and weighed forth in favor of federalism; 7) it proposed individual liberty as a means of obtaining collective liberty; and 8) it declared that the Cuban Revolution was, like the sea, "for everyone," and energetically denounced "the authoritarian tendencies that surge in the breast of the revolution."
This was one of the first direct attacks against the regime's ideological viewpoint. The response wasn't long in coming. In August 1960, the organ of the PCC, Hoy ("Today"), under the signature of Secretary General Blas Roca, the most prominent leader in the Communist camp, responded to the DeclaraciÃ³n in ad hominem manner, repeating the same libels as the PCC had used in 1934, and adding the dangerous accusation that the authors of the DeclaraciÃ³n were "agents of the Yankee State Department." According to one of the authors of the DeclaraciÃ³n, Abelardo Iglesias, "in the end, the ex-friend of Batista, Blas Roca, answered us in [Hoy's] Sunday supplement, showering us with insults."
It's most significant that an attack on the Castro government was answered by one of the highest leaders in the PCC rather than by a government official. In the summer of 1960, any doubts that existed about the government's direction began to fade. From this moment, anarchists who were enemies of the regime had to engage in clandestine operations. They attempted to have a 50-page pamphlet printed in reply to the PCC and Blas Roca, but, according to Iglesias, "we couldn't get our printers"”already terrorized by the dictatorship "”to print it. Neither could we manage a clandestine edition."
The most combative elements among the Cuban anarchists had few options left at their disposal. After the response to the DeclaraciÃ³n, they knew that they would be harried by the government, as would be any other Cubans opposed to the "revolutionary" process. In those days an accusation of being "counterrevolutionary" meant a trip to jail or to the firing squad. So, with other means cut off, they went underground and resorted to clandestine direct action.
Their reasons are as valid today as they were then. As we have seen, anarchosyndicalism within the Cuban unions and federations had been suppressed. Freedom of the press had been suspended, and it was dangerous to have opinions contrary to those of the government. To attack the government verbally was an attack against the homeland. And the regime's politico-economic policies were quickly leading to the Sovietization of Cuba, with all its negative consequences.
The regime was conducting this economic campaign with rigor, and had gone after all of the big businesses, ranches, sugar mills, tobacco fields, etc. In other words, it was confiscating all of the national wealth that until this time had been in the hands of the big bourgeoisie, national capitalism, and U.S./Cuban banking. The anarchists didn't criticize these "nationalization" measures. What they opposed was state ownership/dictatorship over all of Cuba's wealth.
What was left for Cuba's anarchists was to choose either the hard path of exile or that of clandestine struggle. As Casto MoscÃº would explain, "We were convinced that all of our efforts and those of our people had gone for nothing, and that we had arrived at a worse, more menacing situation than all of the ills we had already combatted." Facing this totalitarian situation, the great majority of Cuba's anarchists decided to rebel. They initiated an armed struggle that was condemned from the start to failure.
Among nonviolent anarchist opposition activities at this time was the clandestine bulletin, MAS (Movimiento de AcciÃ³n Sindical), which circulated throughout the island and overseas. MAS featured in its few monthly editions (August-December 1960) attack without quarter against the PCC and its followers in general and against Castro in particular. As for the situation in Cuba at this time, Casto MoscÃº states: "An infinity of manifestos were written denouncing the false postulates of the Castro revolution and calling the populace to oppose it. Many meetings were held to debate matters and to raise awareness," and "plans were put into effect to sabotage the basic things sustaining the state."
The methods included armed struggle. MoscÃº relates: "I participated in efforts to support guerrilla insurgencies in different parts of the country." In particular, two important operations took place in the same zone, the Sierra Occidental, in which operations were difficult because the mountains aren't very high, they're narrow, and they're near Havana: "There was direct contact with the guerrilla band commanded by Captain Pedro SÃ¡nchez in San Cristobal; since some of our compa-eros participated actively in this band . . . they were supplied with arms . . . We also did everything we could to support the guerrilla band commanded by Francisco Robaina (known as 'Machete') that operated in the same range." At least one anarchist fighter in these bands, Augusto SÃ¡nchez, was executed by the government without trial after being taken prisoner. The government considered the guerrillas "bandits" and had very little respect for the lives of those who surrendered.
According to MoscÃº, in addition to Augusto SÃ¡nchez, the following "compa-eros combatientes" were murdered by the Castro government: Rolando Tamargo, SebastiÃ¡n Aguilar, Jr. and Ventura SuÃ¡rez were shot; Eusebio Otero was found dead in his cell; RaÃºl Negrin, harassed beyond endurance, set himself on fire. Many others were arrested and sent to prison, among them Modesto Pi-eiro, Floreal Barrera, Suria LinsuaÃn, Manuel GonzÃ¡lez, José Ace-a, Isidro MoscÃº, Norberto Torres, Sicinio Torres, José Mandado Marcos, PlÃ¡cido Méndez, and Luis LinsuaÃn, these last two being officials in the Rebel Army. Francisco Aguirre died in prison; Victoriano HernÃ¡ndez, sick and blind because of prison tortures, killed himself; and José Ãlvarez Micheltorena died a few weeks after getting out of prison.
The situation of Cuba's libertarians grew more tense with each passing day. The failed Bay of Pigs invasion, in Playa Giron, south of Matanzas Province, on the 17th of April 1961"”an adventure as well financed as it was badly planned by the CIA"”gave the government the excuse it needed to totally liquidate the internal opposition, which of course included the anarchists, and to consolidate its power.
On May Day, 1961, Castro declared his government "socialist" "”in practice, stalinist. This presented the libertarians both inside and outside of Cuba with an ethical dilemma: the regime demanded the most decided allegiance of its sympathizers and militants, and didn't recognize abstention or a neutral position. This meant that one either slept with criminals or died of insomnia, that is, one either supported the regime, went into exile, or went into the cemetery.
In previous epochs, there were other routes. In the 19th century, one could either opt for the separatist forces or keep out of the independence question. When Machado or Batista were in power, the libertarians could declare themselves anti-political or pass over to the opposition groups with the most affinity for anarchist ideals"”left revolutionaries or liberal or social-democratic political groups. But the Third Republic, presided over by a budding dictator, offered only four alternatives: placing oneself under the dictator's control; prison; the firing squad; or exile.
A few months after Fidel Castro declared himself a marxist-leninist, an event without parallel in the history of Cuban anarchism occurred. Manuel Gaona Sousa, an old railroad worker from the times of Enrique Varona and the CNOC, a libertarian militant his entire life and a founder of the ALC, and in the first years of Castroism the ALC's Secretary of Relations"”and hence the person dealing with overseas anarchist media and organizations"”betrayed both his ideals and his comrades. In a document titled A Clarification and a Declaration of the Cuban Libertarians, dated and signed in Marianao on November 24, 1961, Gaona denounced the Cuban anarchists who didn't share his enthusiasm for the Castro revolution.
After the first confrontations with the most stalinist sectors of the PCC, it was understood in the ALC that the regime, on its way to totalitarianism, would not permit the existence of an anarchist organization, or even the propagation of anarchist ideas. The PCC wanted to settle accounts with the anarchists. For his part, Gaona preferred to save his own skin by settling in the enemy camp, leaving his former comrades to fend for themselves.
In all lands and all latitudes there have always been those who have embraced and then rejected libertarian ideas. In this, Gaona was not unusual. The renunciation of anarchism by prominent anarchists was nothing new; persons with equal or more responsibility than Gaona in Cuban anarchist organizations had done it, exchanging their social opinions for Cuban electoral politics. For example, Enrique Messonier crossed over to the Partido Liberal in 1901; Antonio Penichet to the Partido Auténtico at the beginning of the 1930s; and Helio Nardo to the Partido Ortodoxo at the end of the 1940s. These acts were never considered traitorous by the majority of libertarian militants. They simply believed that these ex-compa-eros had the right to choose their own political destiny, and those who switched allegiances were never anathematized. Besides, they hadn't drastically changed their basic positions, and they hadn't associated themselves with parties of the extreme right or with other totalitarian or religious parties. This wasn't the case with Gaona. He not only allied himself with the reactionary forces governing Cuba, but he also threatened to denounce as "agents of imperialism" former comrades who didn't share his pseudo-revolutionary posture to the recently formed Committees for the Defense of the Revolution"”which, of course, would have meant prison or the firing squad for anyone he denounced.
Gaona went further and coerced several elderly anarchists, such as Rafael Serra and Francisco Bretau, into being accomplices in his betrayal through a document in which he attempted to "clarify" for overseas anarchists "an insidious campaign being waged in the libertarian press of your country . . . against the Cuban Revolution" with the purpose of "collecting money for the Cuban libertarian prisoners . . . to deliver them and their families out of the country." The document railed against what Gaona labeled "a hoax, irresponsibility, and bad faith" on the part of his ex-comrades now in exile or taking refuge in some embassy. He then guaranteed in the first paragraph that there did not exist on the entire island "a single libertarian comrade who has been detained or persecuted for his ideas." And this when Gaona had expelled all the anarchists from the ALC and dissolved the organization!
The second paragraph of Gaona's document declared that there didn't exist any type of political or religious persecution in Cuba, and then attempted to identify the Bay of Pigs prisoners with all of the opposition forces in Cuba, including, of course, the anarchists. To combat this threat, there existed an "extreme vigilance in the people through the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution"”one on every block"”against the terrorists." Gaona thus justified the terrorism of the state against the people through committees of informers that answered to the feared state security agency. He also implied that any citizen that didn't back this "revolutionary" process, these intrusive committees, was a traitor who deserved to be denounced.
Gaona then lied outright when he declared that "almost the totality of libertarian militants in Cuba find themselves integrated into the distinct 'Organisms of the Cuban Revolution'," all of which he labeled "mass organizations." He then boasted that the "integration" of these militants was the "consequence of the molding [into reality] . . . of all of the immediate objectives of our program . . . and the reason for being of the international anarchist movement and the international workers' movement." Here one can grasp fully the intention and direction of this document. According to Gaona, the anarchists "integrated" themselves spontaneously into Castro's despotism because it embodied the objective of all of their social struggles over more than a century. He even goes beyond this and says that Castro's despotism embodies the true agenda and purpose of all of the world's anarchists.
Gaona ends with an exhortation to non-Cuban anarchists "to not be surprised by the bad intentions and false information that you'll receive from those . . . at the service, conscious or unconscious, of the Cuban counter-revolution, who undertake to remain deaf and blind before the realities . . . of the most progressive, democratic, and humanist Revolution of our continent." Finally, he states that it's necessary to support Castroism and "to take up arms" in its defense, declaring "traitors and cowards" those who "under the pretext of differences or sectarian rancor" oppose this beautiful dream.
This document is treated here at length because it will help the reader better understand its sinister consequences in coming years. Gaona, at the end of his life, had betrayed his comrades, but even worse, he coerced five elderly members of the Cuban anarchist movement"”some already infirm octogenerians"”into endorsing this monstrous declaration that precisely negated all libertarian principles, both inside and outside Cuba. Vicente Alea, Rafael Serra, Francisco Bretau, Andrés Pardo, and Francisco Calle ("Mata") signed this document along with 16 others who had little or nothing to do with Cuban anarchism.
Many libertarians still on the island rejected this bit of infamy and were thus considered enemies of the revolution; they were sooner or later forced to abandon their homeland. Among these was one of the most outstanding Cuban intellectuals, Marcelo Salinas, who, had he put himself at the service of the dictatorship by signing the Gaona document, would have received all of the honors and prestige that tyrants can deliver to their lackeys.
While Gaona was betraying his former comrades, two Cuban anarchists, Manuel GonzÃ¡lez and Casto MoscÃº, who were involved in the transportation of arms and propaganda, were detained in Havana. Taken to a jail of the state security service and fearing that they would be shot"”a common fate for "counterrevolutionaries""”they were put at liberty on the orders of the department commander, who was familiar with the work of the libertarians in the labor movement, and who mentioned with pride knowing Serra and Salinas in times past. GonzÃ¡lez and MoscÃº wasted little time going directly from the jail to the Mexican embassy, where they were received almost without formalities. Both would march into exile via Mexico and would later reunite with their comrades in Miami.